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The Chattering MindA Conceptual History of Everyday Talk$
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Samuel McCormick

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226677637

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226677804.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

A Play of Props

A Play of Props

Chapter:
(p.260) Nine A Play of Props
Source:
The Chattering Mind
Author(s):

Samuel McCormick

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226677804.003.0010

Chapter 9 argues that empty speech typically ranges from spoken discourse to mechanical noise, even and especially as it approaches full speech. In service to this argument, the chapter shows how the articulate yet nonsensical discussion of Irma’s condition in the first part of Freud’s iconic 1895 dream culminates in the recursive mechanical clamor of a puzzling expression in his dream’s second part: “propyl, propyls... propionic acid.” In the alliterative “prop... prop... prop” of this strange utterance, the chapter discovers the stuttering, repetitive structure of a linguistic shift from empty speech to its full counterpart—a shift which Freud seems to have made (or at least initiated) in his subsequent interpretations of the dream.Atop this final account of Freud’s dream, and with reference the stunning biographical context in which this dream occurred, Chapter 9 concludes that when empty speech begins to stammer, stumble, and seize up, effectively bringing ordinary language use to the brink of unintelligibility, it can no longer be understood as “empty," much less "ordinary." For it is precisely here, on the verge of communication breakdown, that the extraordinary practice of full speech begins.

Keywords:   Jacques Lacan, empty speech, full speech, Emma Eckstein, Wilhelm Fliess, Sigmund Freud, trauma, signification, repression, repetition

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